28 April 2012

People Are People

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get
Along so awfully
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get
Along so awfully

So we're different colours
And we're different creeds
And different people
have different needs
It's obvious you hate me
Though I've done nothing wrong
I've never ever met you
so what could I have done

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
"People are people..."
I got that back in my hippie days.
I got that as a baby Christian, devoid of religion and politics.
I got that when I got sucked into liberal theology.
I got that when I got sucked into right wing, fundamentalist Christianity.
I get it now as someone who just basks in God's grace and thinks both sides have their good and bad points.

Not much boggles my mind, but I have a hard time seeing how anyone would not see this. (My track record isn't perfect, either, but hate isn't an option, so even when it sneaks in, it doesn't stay past having a little light on it.)

In Mt 25/31-46, we find Jesus talking about visiting people in prison, feeding the hungry, and generally helping the hurting as a pretty big deal. (Note: I don't see this as a passage about "What you must do to get to heaven (works), but about our actions showing who we really are. This implies that if we truly love Jesus, these things come naturally.)

In Lk 10/29-37 he applies this to someone his listeners saw as extremely different (a Samaritan).

In dealing with tax collectors, whores, adulteresses, drunks, lepers, Romans, and pretty much every sort of "different" there was in his day, he took a stand for this. "People are people. I created them. I love them. I'm going to die and come back for them as well as you."

Today he'd do the same for all of them again, as well as the homeless, black people, gays and lesbians, illegal immigrants, Muslims, and everyone else. Would he point out anything wrong in their lives and offer to heal them? Sure... just as he does with you and me.

People are people...
Help me understand

Now you're punching
And you're kicking
And you're shouting at me
I'm relying on your common decency
So far it hasn't surfaced
But I'm sure it exists
It just takes a while to travel
From your head to your fists

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man

Help me understand
Depeche Mode lyrics (C) 1984 Sire Records Company

23 April 2012

Sweet Surrender

I've always loved this song by Sarah McLachlan. I never knew what it was about, but it was so good and spoke to me so deeply I never worried about it. If you haven't heard it, you should listen:


(Whatever version I'm currently hearing is my favorite, so I just chose the album version.)

Recently I found a live performance video where she explained the song's origin before she sang it. Here's a transcription from the net:

"The initial inspiration came actually after seeing Leaving Las Vegas, which I found to be this beautiful and tragic love story of these two people who were rather pathetic, both in their own rights, and yet completely accepted each other for who they were; all the beautiful things, and all the ugly things. That's a lot to do with what this is about, accepting ugly things, and being able to appreciate the fact that someone can love you for all those nasty things, especially when you think you are completely unlovable. There's some great comfort in that."
Wow. I've never seen the movie, but this helps explain why the song grabs me like it does. On top of Ms. McLachlan's brilliant songwriting and vocal skills (and great band), this comes from a place near and dear to my heart.
It doesn't mean much...
It doesn't mean anything at all...
The life I've left behind me
Is a cold room...
I've felt like this several times in my life, but the ones that stand out all involve total, relentless, utterly forgiving love that surrendered much to me and left me feeling that this was, indeed, all I had to give. Some of these were God moments, others involve my wife, or falling in love with people others saw as flawed, giving in to that love, adopting them as it were.
I've crossed the last line
From where I can't return,
Where every step I took in faith
Betrayed me
And led me from my home.

Sweet surrender...
Is all that I have to give?
I don't know what the author means by "Where every step I took in faith betrayed me and led me from my home", but that can be read in multiple ways. I take it as betraying my quest for security and safety. Love always involves risk, and the reward is always worth it.
You take me in,
No questions asked;
You strip away the ugliness
That surrounds me.
If that isn't the definition of love, I don't know what is. Absolute love, no reservations, it goes beyond mere (mere!) forgiveness into overwhelming grace. God strips away all the crap, to reveal the core, the beauty, of who we are. True love does that. Other people have done it for me, and by His grace, I do it for others. But it only works if we recognize that love. Otherwise it feels like we're being assaulted when someone tries to strip away the ugliness.
Are you an angel?
Am I already that gone?
I only hope
That I won't disappoint you...

When I'm down here
On my knees...
How well I know that feeling that all I can do is disappoint. But that's the sign of someone who doesn't know what it is to be loved!

Surrender is always a scary thing. Too often, we only do it when we feel trapped, like a soldier with a gun in his or her face. But it runs out there are things we should surrender to long before we get to that point. Love is at the top of the list, especially unconditional, unstoppable, unending love.

Sweet surrender, indeed.

(Lyrics courtesy of lyrics007.com)